EDITORIAL COMMENT: The Serving Line
A clear message throughout the military is that financial belt-tightening by the government set off a wave of economizing to reduce expenditures, use resources more efficiently and improve customer utilization.
In this moderate financial environment, the challenge facing subsistence then is to balance reducing costs with maintaining meal quality and troop morale.
Next, pressure to achieve additional cost control could put DLA's prime vendor program into the crosshairs. DLA expects to move the next generation of subsistence prime vendor contracts toward a lowest-price, technically acceptable model for CONUS because value is a driving factor.
OCONUS, however, is likely to remain status quo. But contracts continue to either come up for renewal or be re-bid, creating an opportunity to revise terms.
Similarly, changes in store for the Joint Services Prime Vendor Program would achieve efficiency and consolidate points of contact by reducing its 32 contracts with foodservice distributors down to three regional contracts across the United States. Solicitations are out to find prime vendors for each of the three regions.
Meanwhile, maintaining meal quality and troop morale against this tight financial backdrop is a connection that was made during DLA's recent Subsistence Worldwide Customer Conference and Food Show in Anaheim, Calif.
Army G-4 Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Raymond Mason, a featured speaker on the last day of conference, discussed the importance of streamlining contracts and menus over the next few years in order to align the military's budgets with future Department of Defense spending projections.
Mason is familiar with the subsistence supply chain from his days as commander of DLA Troop Support back when it was known as the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, and wants to reconcile the need to provide quality, nutritious meals with the reality that budget cuts may reduce some choice.
Balancing meal quality and troop morale with budget considerations is a goal of the Air Force Services Agency, which considers the updating of food operations as the highest priority initiative to better serve the Air Force Community and improve airmen's quality of life.
A key move in that direction came in October 2010 with the Food Transformation Initiative, which aims to raise satisfaction with the quality, variety and availability of food at its installations. The initiative is being tested at six installations.
The military clearly is conscious of maintaining meal quality and troop morale while being fiscally responsible from procurement to the serving line, but keeping that balance is going to be increasingly challenging.